I live in the UK, and as a resident of this Northern Isle, I have the stupendous privilege, for reasons that are a source of great international discontent, of having access to the Coronavirus vaccine now, rather than later.
I took advantage of this privilege yesterday morning, visiting a slick yet friendly operation in Central London to receive my “jab”, as the Prime Minister insists on calling it.
I walked away on a cloud, my mood lifted by the thought that I had, today, taken a meaningful and irrevocable step towards being free of the collective waking dream that we’ve all been living for the past 15 months.
I felt strong, fit, and healthy. At the school gate, I told other parents that I’d had the vaccine. Refusing to use the word “jab” is a satisfying little act of rebellion that has far more importance in the echo chamber of my mind than outside it.
That evening, around six, I felt a little more tired than usual. Perhaps a little out of sorts. A little later, around eight perhaps, during a phone call with a relative, I started to shake uncontrollably. Shivering is what it’s called, but the movements my body insisted on making were far wilder than the word suggests. I suddenly, abruptly, felt profoundly unwell. (spot the explosion of adverbs, I’m clearly not myself).
I am approaching the launch of my Emily Voss novel, containing the first three stories, for a total of about 30,000 words. This makes it between half and two-thirds as long as a full-length novel.
The three stories are of approximately equal length, and if you’ve read the first story, which is free, you’ll know what to expect in terms of style and tone for the next two. Hopefully the story itself will still surprise you.
As part of the launch, there is an opportunity to get the entire novel for free.
This is not a giveaway or a competition, it’s known as as ARC, or advanced reader copy.
Basically, you get the novel for free, on the basis of a gentleman’s (gentle-person’s?) agreement that you’ll review it, particularly if you liked it.
Please note that the cover above, which is also on the ARC, is temporary as I await the final cover.
The ARC will be available to the general public until December 18th, 2020, by clicking here. For a short while afterwards, I will still be handing out “review copies” to people with a track record of reviewing the books they read, and an interest in, or focus on, urban fantasy. If that’s you, then get in touch.
I’ve been considering recording some of my short stories as audiobooks.
I could go about this in two ways. I could either outsource the recording work to someone who is a professional voice artist, or I could read them myself with the equipment I have to hand.
A number of questions arise as a consequence of this idea:
I’m not an audiobook consumer myself, because I read extremely fast and I find listening to a story at the speed of natural language very frustrating. I’m therefore very biased against audiobooks. I find them boring, even when the story is excellent.
My first question is therefore: Do people who like my kind of writing like audiobooks?
I’ve no doubt there are many convoluted answers to this (“audiobook consumers can be people for whom reading is logistically challenging”, or “there are audiobook listeners in every genre”). While I’m sure all these have their merits, and are true in their own way, that’s not what I’m really asking. Underneath my question is : is it worth my time getting audiobooks prepared? Are there enough listeners to make it worthwhile?
Second, I wonder as to the process. Would I be better off getting a professional voice artist to narrate the book, or should I do it myself? Both answers exist in the world of blogs and YouTube. I’m quite capable of reading my own story clearly into a microphone. While I’m sure a professional could do it better, I could most likely do it well. But I have a very British accent, and that might put of the majority of my readership, which appears to be American and Canadian.
Voice actors are expensive. Just so you know. So the third question becomes: How much are people willing to pay for a short story in audiobook format? Can I realistically sell enough of those to make back (after royalties) the cost of producing the thing?
So many questions… let me know your thoughts in the comments, or through the form here, or by replying to one of my newsletters.
When you first see the picture above, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is a TV series about the French Revolution. It’s there in the title. There’s a woman wearing a mask, throwing a lit bottle of something flammable, the decor is in the process of being blown to pieces and there’s bits of very French looking architecture (Versailles, in case you’re curious), in the background.
This is not a TV series about the French Revolution.
It’s set at the beginning of the French Revolution. It’s a fantasy retelling of the events that led to the French Revolution. It uses the tropes, historical setting, nomenclature and vocabulary of the French Revolution, but that’s not what it’s about.
Following my less-than-excellent first experience with third party cover designers, I decided to give it another go.
This experience was more thought-through than the last one. I put a lot more effort into the process myself. Nevertheless, I wasn’t satisfied with the results and so I defaulted to another solution: do it yourself.
Not to be embarked upon lightly, this involved reading and watching videos about cover design, getting rid of my preconceived notions of how I wanted the cover to look, watching a ton of videos about graphic design in GIMP (because you don’t buy professional software for a one-off project) and scouring free image repositories for assest I could use (because you don’t sign up to depositphotos for a one-off project).
I’m undecided on the final result, but it’s at least more appropriate for the book. You be the judge.
Read on to hear about the process, and to see the results…
For reasons I won’t go into, I am presently in Budapest. The way things are going, I will most likely be able to write more here than I have over the past few weeks, which I am looking forward to because things have been slow going.
I’ve yet to find my feet, and am writing this from a charming little coffee shop terrace where social distancing is not too painful and I don’t feel the need to slop ethanol-laced gel over my hands every few minutes. I have yet to take any decent pictures, but this is not my first time here, so allow me to share one I took a few years ago when I was here in winter!
My brain did a weird inversion of the whole coronavirus thing a couple of weeks ago and had what I thought at the time was a great idea.
I tried to put that idea to paper in the form of a short story.
After writing something I was not at all happy with, I decided the idea was not so good after all.
But perhaps the idea is fine, just not in my hands. My brain won’t stop grafting new ideas onto this one, turning it into some epic nonsense of a multi-novel series, with occasional subconscious plagiarising from Maze Runner. I had
So instead of giving you a story, I’m going to dump the idea here. Your imagination can write the rest.
There are lots of things I’m not particularly good at that I do anyway. Making my own book covers has been one of those things. They’re not particularly good, but my ‘books’ are really only short stories and I was giving them away for free.
While I’m fine with giving away some of my work to connect with an audience that likes my writing, I’m not so sure about spending money to put a cover on a free piece of writing.
Perhaps I was wrong about that, but it’s hard to know.
I’ve got a series of shorts coming together, with a jeans-and-leather wearing female exorcist with a bit of an attitude problem as the main character. I wanted a cover and after a few hours playing around, I decided I wasn’t good enough at cover design to do it myself.
I turned to Fiverr.
About a week later, my opinion of my own cover design skills has gone up considerably.